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Information technology is the most critical aspects for implementation of any policy. The government understood this and setup the GSTN even before the draft law was made available in the public domain.
The implementation of GSTN was most ambitious project with the API (application programming interface) based technology at its base. With API multiple stake holders can do authorised input of data and extract relevant reports. To scale up the infrastructure, private players were also invited to join in as GSPs (GST Suvidha Providers). To further the user friendly applications for various tax payers, these GSPs were encourage to extend certain structured threads to the ASPs (application service providers).
Visualizing the GSTR 1, 2, 2A and 1A, being live, it would have been world's best fool proof model. Even if it couldn't pickup in the ideal way, it's still the model worth looking up to by the world. No country implementing similar indirect tax model has been able to come even nearer to this level in ir experience.
It is an endeavour to make law completely system oriented with all the checks and balances inbuilt so as to minimise avoidance of tax at any level.
A lot of traditional accounting softwares have also made to adopt the GST filing utility as one of the critical features. Many new software companies developed tools to meet the wide requirements of more 80 Lac registered tax payers.
The above means a paradigm shift for the consultants as well. It means that, every consultant needs to be learning technology more than what he could do before. With the increased complexity of the compliance, it is also critical to increase use of technology to be more efficient and profitable margins.
We can bifurcate GST software tools into record keeping tools, reconciliation tools, reporting tools and updation tools.
The invoices in a particular format, the debit notes, credit notes and challans of different type become critical modes for exchange of GST credits. For the returns filing, a lot of critical fields are called for which need tracking at the transaction level. Also there are a lot of processing and calculations on fly to be done for deriving at the legally valid Place of Supply, Time of Supply, available refunds and so on. This calls for setting up correct master data and updating the logic. Basically a GST ready accounting tool. Or an ERP. This was one of the important deliverables during the GST implementation. Even today many companies are on the legacy systems creating a chaos from GST perspective and on the other hand the markets are flooded with innovative tools and add ons. We as consultants or CFOS should be helping the enterprise bridge this gap and improve overall assurance.
Even if the software is configured and is able to do proper record keeping, with the GST mandatory annual returns and audit thereby is fast approaching there is a dire need of reconciliation of credits from various dimensions. By reconciliation, I mean reconciliation of the books and the GSTR 3B. Reconciliation of sales part of the GSTR 3B and the GSTR 1. Most critical one if the GSTR 2A ie., list of vendor side credits and the books of accouint. One of tips that would be worth considering is deepening of the excel skills of the team to handle these complex reconciliations. More than this, there are many data extraction tools and reconciliation tools in the market which can do smart reconciliations and generate variety of reports. Most compliance softwares have these feature. Also there are specialised tools like GSTZEN for these activities.
More over, there is a big spectrum of quality content tools. Although there is a lot of data doing rounds on the blogs and other social media, one needs a reliable source of updates and interpretations. This helps the consultants and even the indirect tax incharge of a company.
One of the adoption tip for being a smart but frugal consulting firm is to take help of the younger Cadre for the research, training and implementation.Article assistants are found to be able to make amazing difference while gaining personal satisfaction for themself. Monitor and evangelize the process personally. Celebrate small tech successes so that it repeats and makes your organisations better positioned than before.
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